Are We Engaged in Mission Impossible?
I recently watched the latest release in the Mission Impossible saga, titled “Rogue Nation”. My initial reaction upon hearing the latest mission of the IMF was, “No way, this is the one they won’t accomplish.” But at the end of the movie they once again succeeded, in record time, in accomplishing a mission that at first seemed impossible. They succeeded and all is well in the movie world for at least another day. So what does this have to do with today’s church and today’s church leader? Quite a bit, actually.
Imagine that last night in your dreams God asked you to do something that at first seemed impossible. He asked you to straighten what’s crooked, to repair what’s broken, and to put first things first in today’s church. Mission impossible, right? But what if it isn’t? What if this was not a dream to be forgotten before your morning coffee but instead to be embraced, pursued and, in the end, to realize what at first seemed impossible. Now that would be cool, wouldn’t it? And you led the way; way to go!
A few years ago Pastor Craig Groeschel told a group of church leaders, “The reason God called you to be a leader is so you would take people where they wouldn’t otherwise go.” Sounds like an impossible mission, doesn’t it? But this is exactly what a leader does every single day in their leadership.
Imagine with me again that in this dream God tells you that the real problem isn’t a lack of money, resources, gifted leadership, methods, models, mission statements, conferences, or Bible knowledge, but instead the great need of today’s church is one of values and not mission. “What do you mean? Can you be clearer?” you ask Him. To this question He responds, “Activity does not produce values, but valuing what I value will produce the right actions and will accomplish My mission. Let me explain, it’s all in the Book.” Great, you say, as you open your tablet to write down everything He’s about to say.
He then points out to you a description of the early church found in Acts 2:42-47, a description you are only too familiar with. You’ve studied it (in both Greek and English), taught it, preached it, memorized it, and even, from time to time, made an attempt to live and lead out of it. What new thing could there be for you today, you think, but He continues. He asks you to point out the values embraced by this first faith community and you do so quickly, repeating what you’ve done so many times before with great accuracy: they were devoted to (they valued) the teaching of the Apostles, the fellowship, the breaking of bread, and (the) prayers. He affirms what you’ve said and then reminds you that these values mattered most to these first followers, they were non-negotiables, they determined what this group would be about and how God would respond to them. Interesting, you think, as you begin to once again reflect upon these values.
The teaching of the Apostles – hearing and doing what Scripture teaches (not the pride of more knowledge, but the humility of application); the fellowship – what we share in common in Jesus (not about common ethnicity, gender, interests, background, status, sports allegiance, political party, etc.); the breaking of bread – consistently, regularly, with intentionality and seriousness, participating in the Lord’s Supper, or Communion (not as an afterthought, a minor remembrance, a tummy filler, or “just” a symbol); (the) prayers – coming together regularly as the church to lift our voices in praise and adoration, asking God for that which is worthy of who He is and what He’s like, and then believing we have received what we’ve asked of Him (not like the invisibility of prayer in today’s church, where we know more than we need to about prayer – we just don’t like doing it very much, especially together).
God then closes out this dreamland conversation with this simple question: “How did I respond to their devotion toward what mattered most (their values)?” Without hesitation you respond, “You added to their fellowship daily those who were believing in Jesus!” Almost without pause, you ask, “So why did You add daily to their fellowship?” God simply tells you, “I could trust them with spiritual newborns because they valued what mattered most.” You can’t help yourself at this point as you press in just a bit more, asking, “So, if we valued what You valued, what they valued, would You add to today’s church like You did then? Is this why the church is not growing today?” Instead of answering your question, God just smiles with an abiding love, concern, and affection that communicates His answer even without words.
So your mission, if you accept it, is to be a values-driven leader, leading and living out of the values of that first biblical community, the one God added to daily and who, we are told, turned their world upside down (right-side up) for the cause of Christ. It is our mission, it is not impossible; we can do this IF and when we do it together for His glory, His kingdom, and for His purposes. You in?
Copyright © 2015 Mike Moran. All rights reserved.
Mike was born and raised in the Central Valley of California. He graduated from the University of California, Stanislaus and received his Masters of Divinity from Golden Gate Theological Seminary in the San Francisco Bay area. After several successful years in the business world, Mike and his wife, Nancy, sensed God’s call into full-time Christian ministry. Mike served for 19 years as an Associate Pastor at a large church in the Central Valley with staff leadership, preaching/teaching, and adult discipleship responsibilities, and in 2009 followed God’s call to serve as a Senior Pastor in the Pacific Northwest. It was during this time that Mike crossed paths with Daniel Henderson, becoming one of the founding members of The 64 Fellowship, speaking at their National Conference on “becoming a house of prayer”, and later becoming one of the facilitators of prayer leadership weekends at different churches. Mike currently serves as an Interim Senior Pastor in the Fresno area; his mission is to give himself away to hurting pastors and needy churches so that they experience healing and renewal and become all they are meant to be. Mike and Nancy have two adult children, Kati and Patrick, and he loves his Bay Area sports teams!